I was recently talking with a friend about the process for dealing with customer service calls at a food service delivery app company. When you get on one of these apps to order food from a local company, what are your expectations? What would lead you to call the customer service department of the app?
Let me tell you something about myself before we go any further into this discussion. I personally have never used one of these apps. Now, you’ve probably formed all kinds of ideas about me in your head because of this admission. I’m ok with that. Before these apps came into the mainstream, I rarely ever ordered carry out. It just isn’t a habit I have. I either cook at home or go out to a restaurant to eat. I don’t and never have, ordered carry out. It just doesn’t fit my lifestyle. So, when the apps came along, I just never had a reason to use them.
So, back to my conversation with my friend. She works for one of these app companies and had called me because they were having some growing pains in their customer service department. I had asked her to give me some examples of reasons people call them for support. She said, “well maybe they get their order and the drink is missing.”
Ok – now hold on a second.
I was totally confused. Why would you call a software company about a missing drink in your order rather than calling the restaurant?
This is a concept that makes absolutely no sense to me. The software company has developed an app that facilitates a connection between you and a local restaurant. That software company, and its customer service people could literally be located anywhere in the country – in the world. You’ve ordered from a local restaurant. Presumably within around 10 miles of your house assuming you want your food to still be warm when it gets to you. They forget to send your drink. They are local, and responsible for messing up your order. But, instead of calling them, you call the app. I really can’t get my mind wrapped around that logic.
I wonder how many people called the phone company back in the day before the internet when the only way to get food delivered to your home was by telephone. Hello? AT&T? Yes, I’ve just called and ordered a pizza and now that its been delivered, I see that it is missing black olives.
Today’s episode is about the false conclusion effect. You see, the fact that this makes no sense to me is irrelevant. Obviously, a lot of people think about this differently than I do, or else my friend wouldn’t be getting these calls. A lot of people obviously think that it is the software company’s job to fix the missing drink problem. They’ve reached a different conclusion than I have. The false conclusion effect says that we tend to believe the world at large shares our beliefs and point of view more than they actually do. We tend to use our own perspective as a proxy for the likely perspective of others.
The false conclusion effect is pervasive in companies. Not because of any bad management or nefarious intentions, but because of good old fashion human nature. We are just naturally included to think that other think the way we do and if we don’t exercise some self-control, we can really miss important inputs into our process. Why is self control important here? Because it takes self control to set aside our perceptions in order to look at things from other perspectives.
Once I became aware of this idea that other people come to the conclusion that the correct course of action when a drink is missing from your order is to call the software company, I needed to shift my perspective. This was an eye opener for me. I was immediately faced with the fact that I don’t have the only world view on how these things work. There are two primary reactions that we have when we are faced with the false conclusion effect. We can either reappraise or we can suppress.
Reappraisal means that we reconsider our approach given the new perspective we have. If you get fired from your job, reappraisal is at work if you tell yourself it was a horrible job anyway and you are now free to go do what you want to do with your life. We know from scientific brain studies that reappraisal engages the region of the brain responsible for self control. But, more importantly, it is engaged early in the episode.
The other possible reaction to being faced with a new perspective is suppression. Suppression is when you control your facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language so that others can’t tell what you are thinking inside. Suppression will make it look to others like you aren’t distressed, but your mind is substantially more distracted because of the energy you are putting into maintaining your calm exterior. People are not going to enjoy being with you while you are in this state, and it is more likely that you will forget portions of the event. The self-control region of the brain is engaged later in the event when you are in suppression mode.
Why is reappraisal & suppression important to understand? Because we trust people with self control more than we trust people without it. Trust is the foundation of social interactions. And, without it, you can not be successful in your career – or life. In the book Social, Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect by Matthew Lieberman, he says “self control is the price of admission to society.”
We’ve talked a lot about how self control is an important part of self awareness on this podcast. Emotional Intelligence requires us to understand how we interact with society. Understanding this concept of the false consensus effect – and more importantly, recognizing when we are in its grasp - is important in allowing us to recognize our biases with society.
Having a bias doesn’t make you a a bad person. My bias toward thinking that it is logical to call the restaurant rather than the software company when my drink is missing doesn’t make me a bad person. We all have biases. Recognizing that this is true and then managing your response to it is what leads to improvement.
Once I was able to recognize this other point of view, I was able to incorporate it into my understanding of the issue being faced and provide a better suggestion for solving the problem. Any solution I gave without this expanded world view would have been inadequate.
This is why it is important to get a lot of varying inputs into your process. Talk to others about their experiences. Dig deeper into their thoughts. Ask a lot of questions. But always with the understanding that you are a victim of the false conclusion effect – we all are. Becoming aware of this alone is making you better at your job.
Episode 39: Self Control
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A job search is a stressful time for people. Even if you have a job, it is stressful. If you don’t have a job and the bills are looming, there is another level of stress – a bit of urgency added to the mix. On today’s episode, we are going to talk about managing your mental state during a job search. These are practical tips about actions you should be taking, or skills you should be focusing on during your job search. Although a good dose of positive attitude or positive self-talk may also be necessary during this time, I’m going to let other podcasts give you those. I want to give you some actionable business skills that will help you though the process.
Let me start by saying that a job search is a time that requires a high level of emotional intelligence. We talk about emotional intelligence a lot on this podcast because I believe it is a fundamental factor in success. Emotional Intelligence is defined as: the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. Its always important, but even more so during a job search.
First of all, you are under a lot of stress and stress will uncover any weakness you may have when it comes to the building blocks of emotional intelligence. Second, a job search can put you in a very vulnerable spot. If you’ve just been laid off or made redundant, you may also be dealing with feelings of betrayal or grief. If you lost your job for performance reasons, you are likely dealing with confidence issues. And, if you’ve made the decision to look for a new job while still employed, you may be dealing with stress that your current manager may find out, or feeling that you may being letting your current team down. You may also lose motivation to keep working for your current job. I know that I go through a stage of disengagement from my current job once I’ve decided it is time for me to move on.
So, for many different reasons, a job search is a time of high stress, which can be really challenging for even the most emotionally intelligent. Because of this, I think it is important to have a set of skills that you remind yourself about regularly during the time of a job search.
So, let’s dig in. Here are some tools that can help you maintain your mindset during a job search:
Set Appropriate Expectations
Every employee of the hiring company has an edge on you because a company is likely to fill a position with an internal candidate if they can. An internal candidate who is a known quantity, even if they don’t have the exact experience is hard for any hiring manager to pass up. Another thing you have working against you is networks. Any candidate who has a connection at the hiring company has an edge over you. You recognize both of these things are true when you look at it from the company’s side. As an employee, you would expect your employer to give an internal candidate or a candidate referred from an employee preferential treatment over someone off the street that nobody has any experience with. But, when you are that candidate, you don’t think about it that way. You look at the job description and your skills, identify a match and figure ‘why wouldn’t they hire me?”
Think about what you need to do to keep you mindset from letting the rejection turn into an excuse for inaction. When you get a rejection, what are you going to tell yourself about it? Thinking about this before you need it will help you separate the head from the heart when the time comes. For example, one of the things I tell myself is, “they must have had a referral from an employee that was a good fit.” Do I know it is true? No. But, it is not only possible, it is likely and if it is true, there is nothing I could have done differently that would have gotten me the job.
Look at it from the Hiring Manager’s Perspective
People with high emotional intelligence have the ability to see things from several perspectives. This skill is important when looking for a job because if you can see the job from the perspective of the hiring manager, you may be better able to position yourself for the job.
First, keep in mind that hiring is, for most managers, a painful activity that requires a lot of their time during what is usually a stressful time for them. They’ve likely just had someone vacate the role unexpectedly, they are having to pull double duty while they fill the role – or someone on their team is having to fill in. They want to get the role filled as quickly as possible, but at most companies, the process for getting jobs posted and candidates identified is usually frustrating. Interviewing takes a lot of time out of your day job. They need to find the right candidate because everyone they hire ultimately reflects on them.
So, when you are preparing for the interview, think about these things. Bring empathy to the conversation. Think about how you can make the process as painless as possible for the hiring manager. Think about how you would feel under the stress and realize that they are likely coming to your interaction in something less than the best version of themselves. Where possible, become someone who is helping them solve a problem.
I fully believe that an interview is as much about you ensuring that the job and company is right for you as it is about the company figuring out if you are right for them. Too many people approach an interview as if they are the commodity in the equation.
Of course, there are times where your situation or the economic situation dictates that you can’t be very picky when it comes to your next job. Sometimes a paycheck is more important than a job that is going to fulfill you. I get that, and recognize that you don’t always have the luxury of putting yourself on equal footing with the hiring manager.
But, when you are not in that situation, you need to remember that it is just as important for you to be interviewing the hiring manager as it is for them to be interviewing you. Of course you are selling yourself – your skills, your assets, your ability to get the job done. But, this isn’t a on-way street. If you are going to work for and with the people you are interviewing with, you need to be assessing them as well.
Activate Your Network
Lots of jobs get filled because of referrals. Your network is going to be critical during your job search. You are going to need to set aside time to reach out to people in your network and let them know that you are looking and what you are looking for.
I also find it helps to remind them that they may know someone in their network who has a position to fill. By reminding them of this, you are not only activating your network, you are activating their network. For example, you may be in finance. Someone in your network may be in education. It would seem like they couldn’t help you because they are in such an unrelated field. But, what if their next door neighbor is the head of Accounts Payable at a local company? You just never know what connections people might make. But, I find that you have to trigger people to think about their network. Just to tell your friend in education you are looking for a job isn’t enough. He may think ‘that’s nice, but my school isn’t currently hiring for any finance roles.” But, tell him that you are looking and though he might have someone in his network that is looking to fill a finance role and he’ll think of his next door neighbor, and bring it up on Saturday when they are both out mowing the lawn.
The other thing you need to remember about your network is that you are not the center of their lives. They may remember you are looking for a week or two, but eventually, they will forget. They’ve gotten on with life and the fact that your job search is a really big deal for you doesn’t mean it is top of mind for them. If your job search goes on for a while, your mindset can start to take a turn toward the negative and you can start to feel like your network has let you down. In order to keep your mindset positive, remember that you may need to remind people that you are looking. Don’t be a pest about it – but, just because they didn’t know about anything at the time you originally reached out doesn’t mean they won’t know about something now.
There are a lot of different ways that we look at personality types. The reason we have all of these different categories is because it helps us to understand ourselves and others. Why we behave the way we do. Why others behave in ways we can’t understand.
I’m an introvert, which means that I get my energy from being alone. I can’t imagine what it would be like to get energy from others, but because I understand the idea that there are other personality types, I can recognize an extrovert as an extrovert even though we have a fundamental difference in personality.
Different personality type indicators have different focus. Today, I’m going to introduce the Enneagram Types. I’ve also covered Myers Briggs if you want to listen to that episode as well. Its episode 17.
In this episode, we are only going to be able to cover the Enneagram at the highest level because there are 9 personality types and you can’t cover them all in a 10 minute podcast. Enneagram is primarily concerned with your instinctual motivators. Another way to say it is to talk about it in terms of habits. We all have an instinctual way we interact with the world based on our underlying motivators. Someone who is motivated by fear is going to react differently than someone who is motivated by shame.
Enneagram starts by lumping the 9 types into 3 triads, each of which is defined by its underlying motivator:
The Instinctive Triad. The 3 types in this category are driven by anger. They respond to life at the gut level and are typically very honest and direct. What sets the 3 types apart within the triad is how they manifest the anger.
The Feeling Triad. This group of people are driven by feelings and instinctively motivated by shame. They develop habits that help them cope with their feelings of shame in different ways.
The Thinking Triad. This group of people are driven by fear or anxiety. They relate to the world through their mind and plan carefully before acting.
The reason you should become familiar with Enneagram types is because it helps you understand your overall patters and behaviors. If you understand that you are fundamentally driven by shame, it helps you understand why you make some of the decisions or take some of the actions, or react to others in the way you do.
It also helps you understand that not everyone has the same motivation as you. We all have a tendency to assume others react the same way we do. Logically, we know this isn’t true, but in the moment, as we work ourselves through the day and week, we fall into the more comfortable, or maybe more expedient mental approach that our way is the only way.
But, if you can recognize that your coworker, who has a talent for seeing potential problems and dealing with them before they get out of hand is a Type 6 – and is driven by their fear and anxiety, you can better understand that you and he have a different filter on life.
I’m a big believer that anything you can do to better understand yourself and others is worthwhile. You will be more successful at work the more self-aware you are. Getting to know the Enneagram types will help you identify your coworker’s motivations and filters. It helps you understand the unique way they relate to others, what their perceptions and preoccupations are, and what their values are and how they impact the way they relate to life.
As I said at the start, there is no way for me to cover each of the types in detail, but there are extensive resources that you can use to learn more. Here are the ones I covered in the episode:
Episode 17: Understanding Myers Briggs
The Road Back to You Ian Morgan Cron & Suzanne Stabile
Discovering Your Personality Type Don Riso & Russ Hudson
You are probably familiar with the saying “the glass is half full.” Just like people are either cat people or dog people, I think people are either glass half full or glass half empty people. One means you have a tendency toward seeing the positive and the other means you have a tendency toward seeing the negative.
Well, it turns out that goals are the same way. Goals can be classified as Promotion or Prevention.
Promotion goals are all about what you can achieve. They are about what you’d ideally like to accomplish and how you can maximize your gains. Promotion goals are the glass half full goals. “I’m going to finish writing that novel” is a promotion goal.
Prevention goals, on the other hand, are about safety or obligation. They are the things you feel you ought to do in order to minimize loss and avoid pain. Prevention goals are the glass half empty goals. “I really need to start looking for a job because I heard layoffs may be coming” is a prevention goal.
Understanding the type of goal is helpful because there are different strategies and motivators that you should use depending on which type of goal it is.
There is a concept called Expectancy Value Theory. It says that people are motivated to do something as a function of 1.) how likely they are to be successful (this is the expectancy part), and 2.) how much they think they will benefit (this is the value part).
For promotion goals, the Expectancy Value Theory is generally driven by how likely you think you will be to succeed. Because promotion goals are achievement or accomplishment driven, it makes sense that you are going to give more consideration to your chances of success. When you complete a promotion goal, you feel a rush of success. A promotion goal makes you smile from ear to ear.
For prevention goals, you are on the other end of the Expectancy Value spectrum. Because prevention goals are more about minimizing loss or avoiding pain, you focus a lot less on the expectancy part of the equation. How likely to are to succeed has less impact because the alternative – doing nothing and suffering the expected loss – is the motivation. Whereas promotion goals result in a feeling of accomplishment, prevention goals result in a feeling of relief.
So, take a look at the goals you are currently pursing and think about them with this new filter. Is there something different you might do to accomplish them now that you know which kind of goal they are?
If you want to dive deeper, listen to our episode on Making Sense of Your Goals
Time Mindset can have a profound impact on your productivity. Productive people don’t have more time than unproductive people. But, they do have a different mindset about it. If you want to see an increase in your productivity, one of the things you need to think about is your relationship with time.
How much time have you spent thinking about your relationship with time?
Do you approach it unconsciously, or do you know where you stand with it?
I think a lot of people are really unconsciously dealing with time.
The symptoms of someone who doesn’t consciously understand their relationship with time are things like getting to the end of your day and not getting the most important things done.
Or starting every conversation with “I’m so busy” or “sorry I couldn’t get you what I promised, I’ve just been so busy.”
Another common symptom is negative self talk about your productivity. Telling yourself you just aren’t accomplishing what you want to accomplish. Being down on yourself or – even more diabolical, making yourself a victim of time.
These are all symptoms that occur when you aren’t conscious of your relationship with time. And, the simple way to fix them is to become conscious of it. Once you become conscious of it, you will begin to see that you can become more productive because your mindset sets you up to be more productive.
Notice your mindset about time. Are you making decisions about how you spend your time or are you unconsciously letting your time get by you?
Do you feel good about your time mindset?
Do you have a mindset about time that serves to make you more productive, or is it limiting you to a life where you feel like there just isn’t enough time?
Become someone who takes responsibility for your time mindset.
Expand your understanding of this topic by listening to Words Matter.
Today, we are going to cover the topic of choosing the right communication style when communicating change. This is something that is a very simple concept, but companies get it wrong so often. If you learn this concept today and commit it to your memory, I promise it will pay off at some point in your career.
Let me start by giving a quick lesson on the change curve. This is the process we all go through when faced by change. Everybody goes through these steps every time. Some people go through the steps faster than others. Even the same person might go through the steps at a different pace for different changes. We did a series on each of these phases, so if you want to dive deeper into the phases, I encourage you to go back and listen to episodes 13-16.
Episode 13: Components of Change Management: Awareness
Episode 14: Components of Change Management: Desire
Episode 15: Components of Change Management: Knowledge
Episode 16: Components of Change Management: Ability & Reinforcement
Think about a major change that you’ve gone through in your past. When you became aware of the change, how did you feel? You may have felt betrayed or you may have been in denial. Your head was probably spinning with thoughts of ‘what does this mean?” and all of the different concerns you have about the change. Your mind is going 80 miles per hour – with lots of questions. You are in a bit of a fog best case, and you could be really emotional worst case.
Because of the state of mind you are in at the time you become aware of the change, the best communication style is an informative one. Just the facts. Keep it simple. With everything else going on in your mind, there isn’t room for a lot of additional information. And, in the event the change is really big, you don’t want to hear a lot of inspirational talk. It will feel insincere. So, at the start of a change curve, communication needs to be informative.
As you work through the Desire phase and into the Knowledge phase, you begin to move into what is called Identify Crisis. At this point, your head isn’t spinning about the change and you are starting to understand what your new world will look like, but there are still a lot of unknowns so you are still unsure of your ability to step into the change. During this identity crisis phase, the best communication style is supportive. Communication needs to be softer than just the facts. It needs to give a sense of support for the impact it is having on employees. It should reinforce that the change process is normal, everyone goes through it at their own pace, and that nobody is going to be left behind. It should also be supportive in the literal sense. Provide resources people need to gain knowledge about the change and clearly outline the process they should follow if they need more support.
Finally, as you move out of knowledge and into ability, you are starting to gain a new identity. You are searching for solutions about how you will operate in the new normal. At this point, communication should be inspirational. This is when you start to paint a picture of the new world and how much better it will be than the old one. This is the time to celebrate the change. Trying to communicate inspirationally when you first announce a change will fall on deaf ears because there are more immediate needs at that time. But, one everyone has gotten through their initial shock and been able to get a better picture in their mind about how their world is going to change, they will be ready for an inspirational message to help propel them forward with confidence.
You don’t have to be in a position of authority to have an authoritative personality type.
People with Authoritative personalities are generally:
However, authoritative personalities come in different flavors. Understanding these variations can help you better understand how to work with someone more effectively.
Authoritative & Creative – they come up with a million great ideas and will inspire others. They have an aversion to routine. You will not be very successful trying to get them to follow a process.
Authoritative & Relationship oriented – they are highly attuned to their relationships. They are able to lead teams through change because they know how to collaborate, getting others onboard with the change.
Authoritative and Standards oriented – they set high objectives for themselves and expect every step to be met with high quality. They are going to give you the specific details of how they want things done.
Authoritative and Quiet - have ambitious goals, but work more independently. They will let their teams work more independently. They are more methodical, and will not spend a lot of energy rallying others to get on board with their ideas.
If you want to be recognized as an employee who positively contributes to your organization, one of the things you need to understand about your company is the basic financial metrics that drive it. But, that is only one reason to familiarize yourself with the finances.
By understanding the financial metrics that drive your company, you will have better insight into the reason decisions get made the way they do and potentially even be better able to look into the future and anticipate change that may be coming.
To some extent a company’s culture is driven by the finances that underlay the business. For example, does your company make its revenue by selling something that is relatively low priced to many, many people? Or, does your company sell something relatively high priced and rely on only a few sales per year?
In the first case, you have something like Walmart. Millions of small transactions per year to millions of different customers each year. Compare that to something like an architecture firm that specializes in building airports. High price tag, and I imagine only 1 or 2 customers per year even come available.
All of the underlying decisions, strategies, and processes for these two organizations stem from how they make their revenue. So, if you want to understand your company better, you need to understand where the revenue comes from.
This applies to the cost side of your business as well. What makes up the cost structure of your business? Do you have costs associated with raw materials? How volatile are the costs of those materials? Or, are the majority of the costs related to labor? For example, software companies and professional services organizations have very little costs outside of the people who work there. If you work for an accounting firm and revenue decreases by 25%, the only real way to get savings to offset the lost of revenue is by letting people go.
The last thing I want cover in this episode is margin. Margin is defined as revenue minus costs. You can think of it as profit.
Understanding the margin that your company achieves will also help you better understand the drivers of your business. There isn’t 1 answer about what a good margin is. For example, grocery stores operate on a 1-2% margin, and that is considered good. Professional Services organizations operate on a 30% (ish) percent margin.
By understanding the level of margin, you better understand the size of the tightrope your leadership team is walking when they make financial decisions.
Investigate your company’s financials. Get familiar with the drivers of your revenue and costs. Understand the landscape that makes up the financial health of your company. Understand how it impacts you. Understand how it impacts your leadership team and the decisions they are faced with.
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Strategy is something that is traditionally left to the C-Suite or other executives. This is a podcast for those who are early in their career or are not interested in leadership positions, so you may think that strategy isn’t important for you to understand. But – you are the CEO of your career, so you do need to understand it. And, one of the things that you should think about is whether or not your company has a strategy that will make it viable in the long run.
What I want to do in this episode is give you another criterion to consider about whether the job you have or are looking at taking in the future is a good fit for you – it is called the inflection point.
The inflection point is a point in the future where the fundamentals of the business are going to change.
Meaning, everything the current business is built on becomes obsolete and a whole new set of rules apply.
A good strategy will
You want to work for a company that gets this.
In addition, you, as an employee, should be able to recognize and accept change that may come if your company is in the middle of executing a strategy to change the fundamentals of the business. Prepare yourself for changes that may come by assessing:
Stakeholder analysis is a good tool to have in your tool belt because it can be used to solve a lot of different problems. Stakeholder analysis is the process of identifying your stakeholders and analyzing them to understand their unique position.
The value of this tool is that it walks you through the process of identifying your stakeholders and their positions in order to make informed decisions. It helps you open your eyes to the different actors in the play and forces you to think about each one as a separate, unique person.
Who are stakeholders?
For any given situation, stakeholders are anyone who has a vested interest, or a stake, in your process.
When you want to get something done, you need to have your stakeholders onboard. In order to do that, you need to understand who they are and how you can best influence them. To do that, you should understand:
If you’d like to get a free Stakeholder Analysis Map, you can sign up for our newsletter, and we’ll give you access to it, and all of our other tools.
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